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country. secretary of state john kerry warned about russia' role afte g the border. thithis is al jazeera america. real money with ali velshi is next. >> one of america's most pressing problems, crumbling bridges and outdated railroads. i'll tell you how to fix it and pay for it. how much to cut from our defense budget. i'll talk to william cohen. plus confessions of a middle class cab driver. he would be back on the road to prosperity if he could just find the on ramp. i'm ali velshi. a and this is "real money."
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>> this is real money. you are the most important part of the show. join our life conversation for the next half hour on twitter at aj real money, at facebook. d-plus. that's your grade, america. i'm talking about our roads, railways, communications and more. collectively infrastructure in america gets nothing better than a d-plus grade on a report card put out by the american society of civil engineers. not only are we not doing enough to modernize our public infrastructure, we're barely maintaining what we have running right now. once upon time the american infrastructure was the envy of the world. now we're falling behind the rest of the world. eventually vice president biden slammed laguardia airport as being, quote, too third world after seeing the sleek airport
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in hong kong. nobody told the vice president that we don't say third world any more. president obama is introducing a plan that he's hoping that congress will adopt to modernize this country's roads, bridges and transit systems. the highway trust fund which gets $35 billion a year from federal taxes on gasoline could one out of money in august because it's not enough to meet all the road and maintenance needs. for that congress needs to authorize new funding before september but the president's proposal is a lot more ambitious than that, which means its chances of getting through congress are, i think, zero. i say that because the president got nowhere when he tried something more ambitious in 2011. establishing a national infrastructure bank that leverages private investment to fund massive public works across the country in transportation,
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water and energy. with an infrastructure bank, this has been used in other parts of the world, the federal government would identify big projects, solicit money from the private sector and guarantee the loans required to execute those projects. it's a joint public-private model used by many countries around the world, but smack too much of socialism to many people in congress. in the meantime, america continues to suffer because of lack of leadership on this issue. this idea of creating international bank is not new. but proposals to create one is gaining traction among lawmakers because strong infrastructure boosts productivity, innovation and public well-being. creating a natural infrastructure bank is only part of the solution, kevin, let's talk about that part of the solution. the reason why you said it's part of the solution.
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you say infrastructure banks are useful for new big projects. if you want to fund the national high rail system or dam, but it's not for maintenance, which you think is the big probable right now. >> far too long we've under invested in infrastructure, and as a result of that we see tension between the need to expand our system to meet increased travel demand, increased population and increased national trade. governors and many state departments of transportation face a paradox of investing in the old system, but need to make critical new investments to continue to grow their economy and provide opportunities for their citizens. >> i guess the issue here, here, kevin, is if you don't have the money to start with, then you're not doing the maintenance, you just can't get your head around the new stuff. i guess it's until is if you don't have the money to fix your leaky roof and get a few boiler at your house, you're not
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thinking about an extension. >> that's absolutely the case. it's important to remember that an infrastructure bank has possible part of a comprehensive national society. the fund of tax gas will dry this august. that means putting a halt to national projects during the height of summer construction season and putting people out of work. the gas tax for the fund was raised in 1993. since that time it has lost a lot of its purchasing power, and to put those 20 years in perspective, in 1993 "jurassic park" was the number one movie in america. and gas was $1.05, and the european union was just being created. >> you would think, i would think that maintenance of infrastructure and the building of new infrastructure crosses party lines. it's god something for
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everybody. why do we not have bipartisan support? why do people not want to support that? do we just have a bad taste in our mouth about government spending and how the stimulus was executed? >> i think that's part of it. it's always tough to go to the public to ask for more money. i think people drive every day. they take public transportation every day, and our systems work fairly well. sometimes some of the sky is falling rhetoric of people who care about infrastructure and who understand it's role in our economy, i think sometimes it appears to people that there is a gap. well, my commute was bad but not terrible. >> i guess the thing is i wish we would get away from the sky is falling rhetoric. i get it every time it snooz we should not have power outages for hundreds of thousands of people. we need our power lines fixed and put underground. but with not high speed rail? why not these cutting-edge global things? why do we need to deal with infrastructure on a sky is
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falling basis as opposed to this is how we become the best country in the world? >> i think in part we've seen for many years republicans attack the federal government at every turn, and that undermines people's confidence to achieve on big, grand ideas and infrastructure concepts. it's hard when one of the political parties is trying to convince people of the ineptitude of the federal government. >> kevin, good to talk to you. from the center of american progress. it may be a new reality. a smaller army, a tighter budget. that's not easy on a country that prides itself of being a superpower. i talk with william cohen coming up. and then i take seat to a cabbie who is driven to capture his american dream. >> i'm working to get out of this debt so i can get back to a real life and get a real job or find an opportunity where i can make and earn real money.
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>> that story and more as real money continues. keep it right here.
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>> how many will the united states spend on defense in the year starting in october. it's about the same amount as this year, but chuck hagel announced cuts that would shrink the u.s. army to levels not seen before world war ii. the army today has 522,000 soldiers. it was scheduled to shrink to 495,000 next year. now they plan to reduce that to 440,000 an and 450,000. in the end of 13 years of war in afghanistan and iraq. starting in 2016 hagel will have the challenge of imposing 1 trillion-dollar in cuts over a decade. he said these cuts could jeopardize america's national
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security. i ask you, do you agree with this move? jay tweets, i think our pentagon budget is too robust. we could cut it in half and still be on top. another writes, russia is expanding, china is expanding and we're scaling back? how does this even make sense to even a fifth grader. let's talk more about defense spending cuts and the american military, with the man who served as president clinton's secretary of defense from 2007 7 to 2001. william cohen, now chairman of the cohen group. good to see you. thank you for being with us. >> thank you for having me. >> we just talked about infrastructure, people turn on the lights and they expect it to work. they turn on the tap and expect
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clean water to come out. same with military. a lot in social media said we can forward to cut a lot from the military and be fine. people don't seem to feel the daily impact of that. what is your thought. >> they don't feel the daily impact of it until something happens. there is growing instability in various parts of the world which may require the united states of having military commitment. congress has mandated a reduction a significant reduction, $500 million from the defense budget. under this two-year budget agreement with congress, $75 billion will be coming out of the defense budget. the question is how do you get it? you can reduce personnel which secretary hagel has propose: you can cut operations and maintenance which means you'll have a less capable force
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necessary to respond to those 911 calls, or you can defer modernization. but you have to pay the bill. secretary hagel said here is my recommendation. congress will have a chance to weigh in, but there is a budget cap. it's $496 billion. that's the cap they have to operate under. so they can say we don't like the mix that you have. we like something different. we like the older system than the newer system. we like a bigger army over a smaller army, but they have to make up the difference and come up with a recommendation that says how do we protect our country's interest? >> and secretary hagel has said we have a nimble more mobile army but we may not be respond to go two major things going on in the world at the same time. he said that he's going to do it, but he wants americans to understand what they're trading off. most people don't know what they're trading because most of us don't get involved in military decisions. we don't know what the
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underlying costs are. what is more important. more people and older stuff or newer economi equipment and more army? what one should we take. >> number up, we need to have the future of the united states. we have a qdr, and you try to anticipate what the nature 69 these that are coming that we have to confront. then you shape your strategy to deal with that threat and appropriate the dollars necessary for your military to be able to carry it out. the question comes what are the threats we're likely to face? now that threat will change. we can't predict what will happen in ten years or five years, but you have to have a plan b. you have to structure your for forces to say we think its likely we'll have to have a lighter, more nimble, capable force but in smaller numbers.
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but there has to be a plan b. what if that doesn't work? what if you have the fusion of although that technical capability, the inter relationship of the technicalities or the technical aspect of the forces, but then you have a hacking into the system, and you can't have that kind of effectiveness, what does it mean? you have to take into account contingencies as well as trying to anticipate what you're likely to face. >> let's talk about the politics about this for a minute. like secretary hagel you were a republican serving in democratic administration. democrats don't struggle with this as much as republicans do. republicans have real conflict amongst themselves. there are some who want a strong military, and others who want big cuts in spending. how do you reconcile that? >> well, there is an ideological battle taking place at capitol hill right now as you point out. you have republicans on the right, the libertarian side who want to disengage from world
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affairs. democrats on the left who see this as an opportunity to cut defense spending for the first time in some years now. the question is what about the sensible center that says we're still a dangerous world. there are still going to be requirement to exercise leadership. we are the finest fighting force in the world. we want to maintain that military might. we don't want to be second class or represent our infrastructure that is crumbling. we don't want to have, and send our young men and women out to do battle, be in hammer's way without the best equipment in the world. that separates us from everybody else. here's how you pay for it. you increase the risk of forces we're likely to face in the future. >> we've got a situation going on in the ukraine. it will look like it was being defused a few days ago. now it looks like there could be a stand off with russia, and
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there oh are some people who say america has got to not let that happen. how do we handle that? well, we're not going to send the military to the ukraine. the president is wise to deal with this diplomatically, but the notion that even russia is going to send in their forces to try to control the country would be a big mistake on the part of the russians. there is no military solution to this. the solution is reforming the system internally so the ukrainian people can decide for themselves what kind of future do they want? one that is tied to the system of the russians it's not going very far. it's a guns and gas policy. they have weapons and they have gas. they can shut that gas off any time they see fit. i think if putin decides to use military forces it will accelerate development throughout the european theater.
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it will put gas exploration and fracking on steroids, in my judgment. saying we can't be under the thumb and heel and boot of russia if they're going to use their military to suppress a peaceful dissent. >> we could talk for hours. thank you for coming. >> thanks a lot. >> my conversation with a middle class cab driver who is trying to get off the road and back to his career. >> there are certain issues that i'm dealing with, namely lack of discretionary income. i stopped saving. in other words, my life is not on cruise control. >> how he's hanging on to his american dream keep it right here on "real money." i must begin my journey,
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>> don't go anywhere after "real money." lisa fletcher is up on "the stream" . >> ali, in two weeks and 15 people are dead. some say this is a long time coming. the economy is in shambles, and crime is off the. >> right a lot of people would say that it's a mess and a lot of disagree on what the u.s. role has been. >> whether it's been constructive or counterproductive. we'll talk about all that and
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what the tangible effects of the unrest could be right here at home. >> that's "the stream" right after real money. >> i want to talk now about race in america. specifically the situation faced by african-american men. let's start by a question. are there more black men in american prisons or american universities. one could even ask that question underscores the reality of being a black man in america. for every jobless white male 20 years and older there are two or more black men out of work. the unemployment rate for white men is .1%. for black men, it's 12%. if you answer there had are more
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plaque males in american prisons, you're wrong. there were far more black men in universities. in as recently as 2000 it was the other way around. the importance of the turn around while tackling the challenges that remain, two mayors equip city leaders with the right tools to help black men in the united states. we go to new orleans mayor mitc, there is still a lot of hopelessness and lack ever opportunity amongst young black males in america. >> ali, unfortunately for some that is absolutely the case. i want to thank again mayor
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landrew with mayors united. mayors focused on the issue of violence in our communities, and as it disproportionately effects black men and boys. even though things are moving in the right direction as you laid out in the earlier piece about black men in college as opposed to in prison, you know, the gap is nowhere near as wide as we want it on the college versus prison side. so investing in young people the piece that you had on the mindless debates that go on, especially in the republican congress about investing in infrastructure, that's about jobs. that's about economic vitality. you can lift yourself out of poverty if you have a job. if you're getting a high quality education. if our city streets are safer, if we have healthcare for our people. so we know what the solutions are. the question is whether america
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is prepared to do the kinds of things that are needed: mayors are ready. we need our state and federal partners to join in this fight. and certainly many of the initiatives that president obama has taken on demonstrate his commitment from the top. we're working from the bottom. we need our other partners in the middle to help us out and put all americans back to work. but certainly recognizing that there is a plight for african-american men and boys in the united states. >> you know that pew research study that came out, we talked about it yesterday on the show showing philadelphia was an example of a place that was so solidly middle class, and in many cases blue collar middle class in the 50's, 60's, and 70's and then steadily on decline. how do you reverse trends like that? while that's not necessarily the black-white issue, it's some of it. >> it certainly is part of it. what we've been able to do over
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the last few years is certainly stabilize that number. the pew report went back to 1970. i was entering eighth grade at the time. but in the 2010 number it was 43% middle class. the number this past year was 4%. you're seeing a leveling out. now we need to rebuild. that's why an infrastructure bank is important. that's why race to the top on the education side is important. that's why stemming the tide of violence and illegal guns in our cities, decreasing the prison population and what people talk about the cradle to prison pipeline, the school to prison pipeline. when we invest in people cech lift them out of poverty. we'll restore the middle class. that really needs to be the job of all of us in public service and the philanthropic communities, that needs to be the job of rebuilding and making america strong. >> mayor, you've been very committed to that in
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philadelphia. a city that we both share. to understand what is happening to the middle class. it's slipping. the number one cause is unemployment. i got into a cab recently with a guy in this very situation. jay stein is workinged a a good ol' fashioned new york city cab driver. but not by choice. he had a cush job working on the online industry, but when his job was cut, he went to driving a cab. he would like to live his dream but right now it seems that he's stuck in neutral. >> you've been doing this for seven months now? >> seven or eight months now yeah. >> how do you feel about it?
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>> i find it difficult. i was earning $120,000 plus commission, expenses. now i'm earning maybe i'll earn $60,000 gross. it's a 12-hour day hustle. >> how long do you think you'll be doing this? >> hopefully today is my last day. >> then i'm glad i got you. you're working hard to get something else. >> yes, absolutely. when somebody wants to meet with me, i'll make myself available. i go off duty about an hour before the interview. get to a parking lot, change in the cab, get up to the interview. after the interview is over, get back in the cab and go back to work. >> did anyone ever have occasion to ask you if you felt you were part of the middle class? >> not recently. >> were you before this job? >> i considered myself to be middle class, yes. >> and you still do. >> yes, i do, but however there
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are certain issues i'm dealing with, lack of discretionary income. i stopped saving. in other words, my life isn't on cruise control. to me that's the definition of middle class. you can save. you can think forward. you can think sometime in the future. emergency comes up, you can take care of them. other than the bills getting paid, i have no opportunity to enjoy what life has to offer. if there is an emergency, to pay for that emergency? >> you sound like a guy who understands the american dream, has a piece of it, and has a set back, and wants to get back on the road to achieving it. so what's the road map for that? >> i'll continue to drive the cab to pay my bills. this is not going to be forever for me. i didn't go to college to drive a cab. but i'm optimistic. we're in one of the wealthiest
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cities in the world. if i can't figure out to access some of that, well, shame on me. >> jay stein is optimistic about the future. but it's not that easy to recover after such a big slip. he went from making $125,000 a year to $60,000 gross. a pew study shows of folks who lost a quarter of their over all income after a decade, a third of them still hadn't recovered their footing. and for baby boomers like jay its even more difficult. people are afraid of this very thing happening to them. long term unemployment is devastating to the middle class. it's not as easy to bounce back. on average it takes 41 weeks to find a job. jay's definition of middle class is not to worry about money and enjoy what the life has to offer. the american dream is not just about money but security and peace of mind.
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no one wants to end stories like this on a down note. but in the case of middle class this is what you get sometimes. it's a tough reality. that's why we're impressed for jay and his attitude that he can rebuild the american dream for himself. that's why we decided to highlight not just his story but the entire middle class. thursday, how job clubs are helping more millennials find work or more better jobs. i'm ali velshi. thanks for joining us.
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>> hi, i'm lisa fletcher and you're in "the stream." with dialogue rejected, how will things go in venezuela? everything from dialogue on gas prices here at home. our digital producer, wajahat ali is bringing in all of the talk. waj, they're asking to have mutual forgiveness. >> a lot of

Real Money With Ali Velshi
Al Jazeera America February 26, 2014 7:00pm-7:31pm EST

The impact of jobs, housing, healthcare, education and savings on the economy.

TOPIC FREQUENCY America 12, Us 6, Hagel 5, Russia 5, United States 4, William Cohen 3, Philadelphia 2, Ukraine 2, Lisa Fletcher 2, Jay Stein 2, Ali 2, Ali Velshi 2, Pentagon 1, Landrew 1, Chuck Hagel 1, Obama 1, Clinton 1, John Kerry 1, Jay Tweets 1, Biden 1
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Duration 00:31:00
Scanned in Richmond, CA, USA
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Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 704
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on 2/27/2014